“Often times the most difficult exercise our members do each day is just getting in the door,” says Flo Stahly, owner of ShapeXpress for Women. “When men decide it is time to work out, they pick up their gym bags and head out the door. When a woman decides it is time to work out, she empties the dishwasher, feeds the dog, packs lunches, makes the beds, puts in a load of laundry, takes the kids to school — all on her way to the gym.”
Does this workout routine sound familiar? Stahly mentions that many of the women she sees in her club are on the treadmill thinking about all the things they should be doing, rather than exercising. Stahly went the extra mile in her workout routine, however ‚Äì she opened her own fitness center!
Stahly was a member of Curves and loved the concept of a women’s-only workout facility. The only drawback for her was that she got bored easily with the repetitious routines. So she started looking at franchises. After lots of research, she found a business model she liked. She had the financing in place, and her two locations is mind — West Chester and Liberty Township. The first one, which she opened in January of 2006, was originally a Chinese restaurant. She says it took a lot of imagination and revamping of her initial plan to turn the venue into a workout facility, but she eventually succeeded.
Stahly describes the franchise process. “The first thing to do is you find your location. Once you’ve nailed down a location, you find a space and negotiate the lease, then you find a contractor and the franchise has to approve the layout.”
She says there are pros and cons in the franchise process. On the one hand, you have something to work with from the start — you will already know your color scheme, basic layout and have some brand recognition. However, depending on the franchise, the structure could be somewhat limiting — certain restaurant franchises even dictate which napkins you can use, for example.
Stahly recommends that anyone who is thinking about a franchise should talk to other owners who do business in a similar market, as well as research thoroughly online. After a lot of looking, she found Shape Xpress Fitness, and found it to be, she says, “a natural fit.”
This model worked for her — two years later, Stahly is celebrating her Liberty Township location’s second anniversary the week of Sept. 22-27 (and is hosting a lot of special events to celebrate) and will be celebrating the third birthday of her Westchester gym in January of 2009.
Photo: Courtesy of ShapeXpressOhio